Black is born from gazing into the impossible distance. From the bright blast of a beginning, all color fades until the darkness is reached. Canadian illustrator Matt Ryan Tobin builds his work from the point of absolute black — pulling his subject matter from the emptiness, and pushing his audience towards it, until they meet in the middle.
His work exists in the pop culture world of horror — monsters and creeps, but also the images of adolescence. In Tobin’s world, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are huddled beneath the specter of a shadowed Shredder, their figures cut from the urban grey — they are equals to the city they have vowed to protect. Each figure a totem rendered in the language of the modern world.
Tobin’s trio posters for Tim Burton’s 1992 classic Batman Returns go deep into urban goth tones that Burton conjures, each print delving into the magic of their given character — Tobin’s magnum opus to Burton’s last bid in the universe of Batman. These odes to Burton’s updated comic adventures highlight the clouded mental state of the hero and villains, each buttressed by the insane calamity of Gotham City.
Tobin moves from project to project with that emotional breaking point in mind, asking, can the darkness we see be mistaken for the apex of the villain’s rainbow? Might the moment of true madness in a character be their own light burning away our darkness?